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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE BROADENING OF HUMANISM         219

about ten o'clock ; and still the instruction went on. Not only
, was a book read during the meal, but edifying comments were
" made on the bread, wine, salt and the other articles on the table,
and passages about them from the ancient authors were read and
memorized. Dinner over, an hour was allowed for digestion,
during which the morning lesson was rehearsed, and arithmetic,
geometry, astronomy and musicóthe four subjects of the quad-
riviumówere learned by means of games with cards and dice.
Then for three hours he went over his morning lesson, continued
the hearing of the book read to him and practised writing. In
the afternoon he usually went to the riding school and spent some
hours in all sorts of physical exercises; and on the homeward
journey learned about plants and trees, and what was written about
them by the ancients. On wet days he busied himself with
carpentry, sculpture and other practical occupations, and visited
the fencing school or some of the workshops in the town. While
waiting for supper he repeated some of the things that had been
read. Supper at six was the chief meal of the day, but even then
there was a continuation of the reading begun at dinner and more
profitable conversation. The evening was spent with music and
games and occasional visits to travellers or men of learning. And
finally, before going to bed, he was taken to study the sky, and then
made to recapitulate everything learned in the course of the day.
The element of burlesque is obvious in this outline of Gar-
gantua's education : it is a gigantic task for a gigantic nature, not
a course for ordinary men. But with the burlesque there are some
serious ideas. It is intended as a protest against the laziness of the
medieval student, whom the cramming of grammar and com-
mentaries, as Rabelais said, turned into a " useless blockhead,"
with no real interests and no power of practical judgment. Behind
it is that yearning for a knowledge of everything that could possibly
be known which possessed Rabelais and many of the best men of
his age, a yearning which, in these days of scanty knowledge,
created an ideal not so hopelessly beyond attainment as it is now.
There is to be noted, further, the important suggestion that the
way to this encyclopedic culture is to be found in the study of
all the facts of daily experience, extended and illustrated by the
knowledge embodied in the classical writings.

This interpretation of Rabelais' scheme is borne out by the
letter from Gargantua to hi$ son Pantagruel which appears in the